Buncich stepping back as party boss
Feb 23, 2017
CROWN POINT — Lake Sheriff John Buncich's won't seek a new term as the county Democratic party leader.
Lake County Democratic precinct committeemen will meet March 4 at SS Helen and Constantine Church in Merrillville to elect Lake County Commissioner Mike Repay, D-Hammond, or Schererville attorney James Wieser as their next county chairman.
Buncich declined to run before the deadline passed Wednesday morning.
Buncich took over the party's reins in 2014 after Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott stepped down.
Buncich's future leadership role was called into question when a federal grand jury indicted him Nov. 18 on allegations he solicited and received campaign contributions and bribes from towing firms seeking his approval to do business with county police. Buncich is pleading not guilty and awaiting trial.
Lake County Commissioner Mike Repay, D-Hammond, 41, has served as one of county government's chief executives for four years and ran unsuccessfully for chairman two years ago.
James Wieser, 69, a Schererville attorney, has been a party adviser for decades and serves as counsel for the county election board. Wieser served on the Highland Town Council and Lake County Council more than three decades ago.
Michelle Fajman, the county's elections director, and Gary City Councilwoman Lavetta Sparks Wade will compete for the party position of vice chairwoman. Candidates for party treasurer are County Treasurer Peggy Katona and Tammi Davis.
Candidate for party secretary are: Hobart City Councilman John Brezik, Lake County Councilwoman Christine Cid, Mike Ball and Catherine Hadow and Lake County Auditor John Petalas.